Wake Up the Dawn

 

 

 

 

 

I sat by the shore, looking out on the ocean.

The water was peaceful and serene. I had taken my spot as the first gray light of dawn was awakening the beach.

Captivated by the scenery before me, I failed to consider what might be occurring behind.

As I turned around, the amber rays of the rising sun were surrounding the trees with a delicate glow.

King David wrote:

God, my heart is steady.
       I will sing and praise you with all my being.
  Wake up, harp and lyre!
       I will wake up the dawn. (Psalm 108:1,2)

 

 

The Sheep of His Pasture

 

 

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

  Worship the LORD with gladness;
       come before him with joyful songs.

  Know that the LORD is God.
       It is he who made us, and we are his ;
       we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

  Enter his gates with thanksgiving
       and his courts with praise;
       give thanks to him and praise his name.

  For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
       his faithfulness continues through all generations.

     —Psalm 100

 

 

 

The New Life

 

 

 

Maybe you feel like you just don’t fit in.

At least, not everywhere.

It may not seem that way to others, but inside, you know it’s true.

Several weeks ago, I attended a motivational rally meant for teenagers. There were several hundred teens in attendance, enjoying the loud music, pyrotechnics, live acting and comic video, making for a very enthusiastic audience.

Being well past my teen years, (WELL past…) I am used to feeling "different’ in such settings; however, I have come to enjoy several aspects of today’s culture.

I was sitting beside a calm college student who was surely there to be an encouragement to younger attenders. At one point, I turned and simply asked the question, "Do you feel old?  After a second of laughter, "Yes!" was the reply. Even a few years of growth and maturity tends to separate us from what we once were.

As Christians, there is no room for arrogance; however, as we grow closer to God, we gain greater insight into our own lives and the lives of others.

Imagine a high school student going on a mission trip to a third world country. Imagine that same student going back to the very same country seven years later, having just become a medical doctor. Everything would seem different, not because the people had changed, but because the student had gained greater understanding.

Colossians 3:10 reads,

You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you. This new life brings you the true knowledge of God.  (NCV)

Maybe you feel like you just dont fit in.

At least, not everywhere.

You are becoming new.

And that’s okay…

 

 

 

 

 

He Fills

 

 

It was quite a storm.

When the rain had eased up a bit, my husband wanted me to sit on our front porch and watch the lightning in the last moments of daylight.

Later, he suggested that we take a drive. Darkness fell while we were out. There is a farm behind our home. We drove to the other side of the farm and stopped the car at a place where the night sky was in full view.

The lightning was beautiful. The pasture below the brilliant flashes were illuminated with each flash or bolt.  Trying to catch a photo at just the right moment was exciting. With one huge display of light, I thanked God for allowing me to capture its image.

In the book of Job, chapter 36, Elihu exclaims,

"How great is God—beyond our understanding!" (verse 26a)

Further on in the chapter he says of God,

"He fills his hands with lightning 
       and commands it to strike its mark." (verse 32)

Our God is a God of power.

 

 

 

 

A Man’s Wisdom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proverbs 19:11 says, "A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense."

As I consider this verse, I could see that through wisdom one could understand the need for patience in a matter. With wisdom giving him insight, he might conclude that waiting calmly was in order.

Continuing to look at this verse, the second portion seems clear to me, as well. To overlook an offense and go on without making a big "to do" about it all would signify good character. What is intriguing to me is how these two thoughts are placed together.

How does overlooking an offense go hand in hand with patience and wisdom?

Could it be that through God given wisdom, we might see beyond the hurt of the moment, well into the days ahead? If overlooking the immediate offense would further the spiritual development and the character of the offender in the future, patience would be needed in waiting for that development to occur.

In our own strength, this would be a difficult task.

With God’s help and encouragement, we can respond with wisdom as He allows our lives to help mold and shape those we come in contact with, even as they have a part in fashioning our own.

As a bird sits patiently by the seashore, wisdom may call us to wait patiently on God and His timing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But Now

 

 

 

 

In the past, we were ruled by our sinful selves.

The law made us want to do sinful things that controlled our bodies,

so the things we did were bringing us death.

In the past, the law held us like prisoners,

but our old selves died,

and we were made free from the law.

So now we serve God in a new way with the Spirit,

and not in the old way with written rules. –Romans 7:5,6

 

 

Draw Near

 

 

 

The road was somewhat steep and winding. The mist hung delicately in a soft blanket on the branches.

There was nothing fake there; no city lights, flashing signs or enticing barrage of media.

Only the tender green of the living plants and trees that populated the mountain, hugging the soil as they cascaded down the slopes to the valleys below.

Sincere.

Real.

Transparent.

In our shame and guilt, or perhaps our lack of self-esteem, we tend to shrink back from telling God what we really feel inside, somehow ignoring the fact that He knows our deepest thoughts.

We can approach God sincerely.

We can be real.

We can be transparent.

There’s no need to be fake.

"..and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." —Hebrews 10:21-23

 

 

 

 

 

Keep Your Roots

 

How deep is deep?

Of course, that depends.  It depends on what you’re considering.

Bamboo trees grow tall and lovely in this part of the country. Their slender leaves stretch tenderly outward with a gentle hue of green.

How deep are the roots of a bamboo tree? I have read of at least one type with roots that plunged over four feet.

If water and nutrients are to be found, the roots must run deeply.

If we, as Christians, are to find our strength, we must keep our spiritual "roots" growing deeply in God.

Keep your roots deep in him and have your lives built on him. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always be thankful.  –Colossians 2:7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy

 

 

 

Happy is the person

(not troubled, upset, worried, afraid, downcast or burdened)

whose sins are forgiven,

(not looming over their heads, permanently stored, remembered forever or unable to be erased)

whose wrongs are pardoned.    —Psalm 32:1

(not waiting for payment, creating distance from God, continually birthing new guilt)

 

How about you?

Are you happy?

 

 

 

 

Worthy of Praise

 

I was in a service this morning that was very meaningful.

During the portion devoted to singing praises to God, two members walked together around the inner perimeter of the room, with hands raised, praising God.

I have heard of prayer walking before, where believers get together and take walks while praying, perhaps in their neighborhoods. This was different.

As I pondered their praise, I thought of Heaven and what it might be like there. Wouldn’t there be creatures who are continually before God giving  Him praise? Like the two worshipers I saw this morning, wouldn’t there be forgiven saints of God walking and praising Him?

God is worthy.

 

 

 

You Made the World

 

 

 

Yesterday, I trimmed some tree limbs in our front yard.

I didn’t finish….

So, today, I trimmed them more.

This was, or so it seemed, a tremendous source of entertainment for a great many curious dragonflies.

Upon sensing my presence, I was visited by a variety of dragonflies. At warp speed, they zoom into your personal zone, stop, and hover near you. What goes on in their minds? Whatever it is, it is considered quickly and they jerk into high gear and reorient themselves to another vantage point or disappear entirely from view.

So as not to be misunderstood, let me clarify—I thoroughly enjoy my encounters with these wondrous creatures. When I see them flitting about, it brings a certain joy to my heart.

I have been reading lately from a New Testament  with Psalms and Proverbs added. Last night, I was reading from Psalm 89, written by Ethan, the Ezrahite. In verse eleven he writes,

   "The skies and the earth belong to You. You made the world and everything in it."

 

The visits from the dragonflies? They are gifts from God to me.

He created them.

They belong to Him.

They are beautiful,

and He sends them to my front door…

 

 

 

 

Set My Heart Free

 

 

The children were having a wonderful time playing with the bubbles. With small bubble-creating wands, they blew dozens of carefree, floating orbs into the sky.

Reflecting a rainbow assortment of glistening colors, each bubble left the confines of the wand, set on a destination through the air. Some rose higher and higher without popping, far up above us. Some stayed on a more horizontal course, carried along by the wind. They were free.

For me, the existance of bubbles is fascinating. With just a puff of air, a liquid suddenly takes on a completely spherical shape; God shows us perfect mathematical equations in every aspect of creation.

If you have ever felt worried or burdened, lost or overwhelmed, then you have experienced the opposite of freedom. Many conditions of day to day living stand patiently by, waiting to catch us at low moments in order to weigh us down and render us unproductive.

When we are confronted with these negative feelings, we are not without help. Taking the time to stop and pray at the first sign of discouragement is the first step toward regaining the freedom that God offers us. God can calm a troubled heart and ease a worried mind.

He can set you free.

 

 

 

 

 

Thirsts

 

Many years ago, I enrolled in marching band at the new school I was entering. At the fine age of twelve years, I began a rigorous routine of learning to march in the hot autumn sun, spending long periods of time in the grassy practice field.

After practice was over, band members would go inside the building to find water fountains. I, for one, was incredibly thirsty. Meeting that need was probably about all that was on my mind.

Have you ever been thirsty for a word from God?

There was a particular time in my life when I had a driving desire to know what God felt about something. I would look up different passages on the subject. I prayed. At least once, I wrote a question beside a chapter in my Bible about how to interpret what it seemed to mean.

I was thirsty.

Thirsty to know God’s heart on the matter.

Thirsty to understand the truth.

The author of Psalm 42 was also thirsty. He writes,

"My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
       When can I go and meet with God?" Psalm 42:2

When we are weary from the sun and our outdoor tasks, we think, "Where is the water fountain? When can I go in a have a drink?" 

When we are longing to understand God, we think,

"When can I meet with God?

When will I be closer to Him?

When will I understand more?"


 

 

 

 

Higher Then the Heavens

 

The Space Shuttle program is nearing its close. Being the only craft with wings to achieve orbit and also land, it is a fascinating achievement of technology.

Living as near the launch sight as I do, viewing a shuttle on its ascent into the heavens has been exciting over the years. Several weeks ago, I was privileged to see the "out of this world" color plumes created before dawn as it sped upward beyond the confines of Earth.

Standing near my house, gazing into the morning sky at the marvelous mix of vibrancy and brilliance, I was captivated. I think I understand the meaning of that word now. It was as if I couldn’t look away from the magnificent scene in the sky. If I only glanced away for a moment, the currents of air might have altered the appearance of the clouds, and I would’ve missed it.

Alone in the early morning air, I stood near the fence surrounding the farmland owned by our neighbor. The spectacular view hung before me, suspended in the atmosphere, a testament to what God has allowed man to do. It was also a silent analogy of His great love for you and for me.

Psalm 108:4 says,

"For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies."

 

 

 

O My Strength

 

 

 

It’s always quiet there–except for the birds.

A few birds?

No.

An entire community of birds. Many different kinds.

Squawking, chirping, flapping, paddling.

Feathers ruffling, take-offs, landings, beaks plunged into the water.

You might envision this place far into the countryside, undisturbed by man. Well, this is not the case.

Located in a neighborhood, a single pond with an island is surrounded by houses, bordering a long, paved road.

The island is filled with brush and tangled trees. It is also FILLED with birds.

I love to sit or stand at the water’s edge and photograph the wide variety of tenants as they carry on their day to day tasks.

On one such day, I photographed a lovely bird who was sitting.

Sitting and waiting.

Waiting and watching.

Watching intently.

Psalm 59:9a refers to God as "Strength."

        "O my Strength, I watch for You."

We should be still and wait for God.

We should wait for God and watch for Him.

We should watch for God, and do so intently.

He is our Strength..

 

 

 

 

 

Compassion and Mercy

 

 

 

Compassion.

It’s origin is from a Latin word, meaning "co-suffering."

Does God understand our suffering?

Does He understand our sorrow?

What about our lonliness?

Our fear?

Our temptation?

Our weakness?

Our frailty?

What about our doubting?

Does He understand our weariness?

He comes alongside us with great compassion, in whatever condition we are in.

 

 

"The Lord is full of compassion and mercy."   James 5:11c

 

 

About the Ninety-Nine

 

 

Last night, my mind was filled with thoughts, wondering about a spiritual direction that a friend seemed to be headed in.

As I turned to a passage in the scriptures, I was hoping to find some insight. I had not planned to look at any particular place.

Beginning to read, my eyes had come to rest on the story of the shepherd who had one hundred sheep. When just one of the fold wanders away, he leaves the ninety-nine who are together and goes in search of the sheep who is lost:

"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost."

Matthew 18:12-14

When I went to church this morning, the pastor spoke of this very same story. God was bringing this to me once again.

God loves my friend. It is not His desire that they "wander away." However, if that should ever be the case, He is ready to search for them in order to restore them back to the flock.

What a precious picture of God’s tender love toward us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well Watered Garden

 

 

 

If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
       with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

  and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
       and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
       then your light will rise in the darkness,
       and your night will become like the noonday.

  The LORD will guide you always;
       he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
       and will strengthen your frame.
       You will be like a well-watered garden,
       like a spring whose waters never fail.

Isaiah 58:9b-11

 

Consider

 

 

 

I rejoice in following your statutes
       as one rejoices in great riches.

  I meditate on your precepts
       and consider your ways.

  I delight in your decrees;
       I will not neglect your word.

Psalm 119:14-16

 

If we take the time to sit and read the Bible, what happens?

If we take the time to consider what it says, what happens?

If we think about God’s guidelines for our lives, what happens?

If we ponder God’s ways, what happens?

 

I’m not going to tell you.

I’d like you to experience it for yourself…

 

 

 

The Rising Sun Will Come to Us

 

John the Baptist’s father, Zacharias, was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied about him. He spoke of how John would prepare the way for Jesus, who is our "rising sun."  Each of the four translations below describe this thought:

Because of the tender mercy of our God,
      by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven (NIV)

 

With the loving mercy of our God,
       a new day from heaven will dawn upon us. (NCV)

 

God’s love and kindness will shine upon us

   like the sun that rises in the sky. (CEV)

 

Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us… (KJV)

 

Because of God’s tender, loving mercy–His love and kindness—we have Jesus, our Savior, who takes away the sins of the world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appeared to All Men

 

 

 

 

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.

It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions,

and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,

while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing

of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness

and to purify for himself a people that are his very own,

eager to do what is good.

 

Titus 2:11-14

 

 

 

And Underneath

 

I just hadn’t been paying attention, I guess.

Suddenly, I looked up to see that we would be traveling underneath a bridge. How majestic it was! I know, of course, that it was formed of concrete and reinforcing steel, but it looked strong and sleek, like a towering carved sculpture of ivory and alabaster—smooth and flowing with its graceful arcs. Its very presence drew my attention.

Vast and expansive, it stood solidly as people traveled in safety above and below its pilings.

Like the bridge, God is strong. He is the very author of strength. How majestic He is! How vast is His glory!

We may take refuge in Him as we are kept safely in His everlasting arms.

 

 

 

 

 

He Heals

 

 

 

It was just a fenced in cage with some ordinary sand cranes….or was it?

My husband and I were visiting a special rehabilitation area for injured animals.

He noticed it first.

They each had lost a leg.

The story doesn’t end there without hope for these tall, graceful birds.

In fact, the story gets very interesting, with an unfolding plot of compassion and care.

Each bird had a prosthetic leg.

Suddenly coming to the realization of what we were seeing, I was gently shocked by the apparent concern for the well being of these cranes. Someone cared.

They cared a lot, in fact.

Pleasantly surprised by the sight, I also noticed that they had acclimated to their new limbs rather well. One bird actually used his artificial leg to reach up and scratch himself. They had been given a new chance at life when things looked impossible.

They all seemed to be getting along rather nicely with each other, without complaint.

I wonder what they thought of their shared predicaments; not only that, but their shared redemption from certain death in the wild.

Who designed each individual prosthesis to compensate for every unique injury? Who lovingly fitted them to each bird?

I may never know.

Who is ready to bind up our wounds? To rescue us in the wild of life when we can no longer stand?

Who takes us in and replaces what was lost? Who gives us a second chance at life?

That’s an answer I DO know.

It is God.

 

 

 

Some Fell Along the Path

 

 

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake.

Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it,

while all the people stood on the shore.

Then he told them many things in parables, saying:

"A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed,

some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil.

It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow.

But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched,

and they withered because they had no root.

Other seed fell among thorns,

which grew up and choked the plants.

Still other seed fell on good soil,

where it produced a crop—a hundred,

sixty or thirty times what was sown.

He who has ears, let him hear."

 

Matthew 13:1-9

 

 

 

 

 

I Call to You

 

 

The water was calm. Silently, they floated by.

Their name? I don’t know it.

God does.

They were alone.

Alone in a canoe.

Alone with their thoughts.

I didn’t know their thoughts.

But God did.

Who can we truly call on at any hour, day or night?

Who knows everything in our hearts before we voice a single word?

Who understands both joy and sorrow?

Who speaks to us in the depths of our souls?

The answer?

God.

 

 

 

Fearing

 

 

 

Have you ever felt desperate?

Without options?

At a loss for what to do?

You are not alone. Even those "strong" people that you know who seem to have life in perfect order–even they come to struggles that are too hard to bear and too difficult to understand.

This being the case, are we powerless to help ourselves when things really seem to be falling apart?

The answer is "yes" but it is also, "no."  That’s a good thing.

In our powerlessness, we must turn to God. We have nothing left to offer but an earnest plea. When we do turn to God, we are, in fact, using the power of our will to trust Him and ask for help and understanding.

In the book of Acts, Paul is being transported to Rome by boat as a prisoner. Travel is treacherous.

"Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight."

(Acts 27:29)

Listen to this statement:

"When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved." (Acts 27:20)

In the midst of this, Paul hears a message from God and speaks to the men, "But now I urge you to keep up your courage…"  He believed that God would save them from the perils of their circumstance.

Are there rocks in your path right now?

Do you fear that you will crash onshore and all will be lost?

Day after day is there no sunshine within your heart?

Have you all but given up on hoping that matters could get better?

Ask God to calm your fears.

 In your powerlessness, ask Him to encourage you and give you strength.

It is God who is Master over the storm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Your Will

 

 

 

I am fascinated by deep sea life.

The vivid colors, the unique design, the incredible beauty.

Living creatures yet undiscovered by man are undoubtedly swimming about in the vastness of the sea floor, known only by God. Wouldn’t it be exciting to be the first human ever to view a certain species of animal while on an expedition? To be the very first man or woman that God allowed to see one of His creations?

Think of what it will be like to stand in Heaven and gaze upon all that God has made!

Everything that exists does so by the will of God.

 

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
 "You are worthy, our Lord and God,
   to receive glory and honor and power,
   for you created all things,
      and by your will they were created
      and have their being."

Revelation 4:9-11